SEATS RETAINED: The Nationals Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey and newly elected Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh.
SEATS RETAINED: The Nationals Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey and newly elected Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh. Trevor Veale

Party heartland of The Nationals

A CENTURY after the party was founded The Nationals remain politically relevant on the Coffs Coast.

The country conservatives retained both the state seats of Coffs Harbour and Oxley.

NSW is celebrating the election of its first Australian Sikh Lower House MP after Gurmesh Singh retained Coffs Harbour winning 43.51 per cent of the primary vote.

In Oxley, meanwhile, Roads, Maritime and Freight Minister Melinda Pavey, the first female elected in the seat, was returned to office with 52.67 per cent of the primary vote.

Mr Singh's election win in Coffs Harbour ensures The Nationals have retained their iron grip on the seat over 38 years.

Mr Singh, who will be sworn-in as the local MP in May, prevailed with a primary vote of 19,032 of the total 43,739 votes.

The third generation farmer said a key to polling strongly was meeting people face to face with voters.

"I had a lot of people approach me at pre-poll while voting, talking about a lot of different issues," Mr Singh said.

 

Nationals candidate Gurmesh Singh celebrates the campaign with retiring Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser and his supporters on election night.
NEW MP: Nationals candidate Gurmesh Singh celebrates the campaign with retiring Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser with family and supporters on election night in Coffs Harbour. Matt Deans

"We tried to meet as many people as possible, we tried to visit people in their homes and people could see that we were working hard and I think it was one of the keys. We started in Red Rock and went all the way down to Bonville."

Mr Singh paid tribute to his predecessor Andrew Fraser, who has retired from politics after 28 years in parliament.

"Andrew is a very experienced local member and he understands that you need to represent the whole community and work to good outcomes for the whole community," Mr Singh said.

"He has been a great political mentor and I've learnt a lot from him over the last couple of months."

Celebrating the election victory, Mr Fraser spoke highly of Mr Singh's work during the campaign.

"It's been a long, hard campaign. We've been at it in basically full campaign mode since Australia Day and we haven't stopped and I want to complement Gurmesh - he is one of the hardest working candidates I have ever seen.

"He has got a work ethic that would put a lot of people to shame, he's a man who loves his family and hasn't seen a real lot of them throughout the campaign.

"I've got to say someone who has a work ethic like that will make a damn good Member for Coffs Harbour."

In Oxley, Roads Maritime and Freight Minister Melinda Pavey was returned with a healthy 52.67 per cent of the primary vote.

Mrs Pavey, who on Saturday night was part of Channel Nine's election panel, recorded 65.50 per cent in the two-candidate preferred count over Country Labor's Susan Jenvey.

"Thank you to everyone who has supported me. Thank you to all my volunteers and my team. Thank you to the community. Thank you to my incredible family. It is an honour and privilege to be elected as your MP. I am humbled and grateful," Mrs Pavey said.

"These next four years I will work just as hard as the previous four."